To phrase it another way, if a Singaporean tourist walks into a MetroBank or HSBC branch in London, would the bank be allowed by the FCA to open a current account (at the branch managers discretion subject to say their internal KYC requirements), even though the tourist is not living in the UK and his address is overseas?

Or are all banks in the UK not permitted by the FCA to open current accounts for non residents? or it is left at the discretion of the bank?


UK banks are permitted to open accounts to non-residents. Whether resident or not, you will need to prove your identity in order to open a bank account.

Your local bank may even be able to handle all the paperwork and set up an account on your behalf if it has a correspondent banking relationship with a British bank.

The biggest four UK banks, Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest all offer international bank accounts, which are designed specifically for non-residents.

  • Generally the copy of passport should suffice. – Dheer Jul 18 '18 at 7:12

It is legal for a UK bank to open a bank account for pretty much whoever they want to.

Whether they actually will open an account for a transient is a different question. My practical experience with banks in the UK is that is very hard to get a bank account unless the account holder has residency in the UK, has a permanent address and preferably a job or other verifiable "explanation" for their "source of funds".

So, the bottom line is that it is legal, but you may have a hard time successfully doing so. Plan on answering a LOT of questions, and I mean a LOT OF QUESTIONS. I have seen UK bank questionnaires that are 10 pages long and that is for a resident. I can't even begin to guess how carefully they would scrutinize a non-resident.

  • The UK banking system sure is antiquated. In the US, I can open a savings account online in about five minutes at a bank I have no relationship with. – RonJohn Sep 16 at 17:00
  • @RonJohn I can do (and have done on a number of occasions) the same here in the UK (a year or so ago I opened an ISA [a tax-efficient savings account] with an institution I hadn't previously dealt with and transferred £5k to it, all in about 10 minutes, using just my mobile phone in a pub). The long forms are, I suspect, are for when the applicant is new to the banking system as a whole, and has no other bank accounts. – TripeHound Sep 17 at 7:30

It is literally impossible to do this; unless they get 50,000 pounds or more. I have checked with the top 4 banks who all claim to offer international accounts. they will NOT give you an account. They say you need proof of address, but then if you are not there full time they will not allow you an account. It's a vicious cycle, and I"m not sure how you're supposed to pay all the bills fpr for your property without an account. If someone knows how, please enlighten me.

  • Does the UK still have money orders? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_order – RonJohn Sep 16 at 16:54
  • At least from within Europe you can pay your bills using a SEPA transfer. Choose "shared costs" and neither party has to pay surcharges. – MSalters Oct 11 at 19:47

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